OPIC Highlights Consumer Protection Bills Passed During Session

Jul 29, 2019 | eNews

The Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC), an independent agency that represents Texas consumers in insurance matters, has highlighted four bills passed during the recent legislative session that positively impact consumers in the state.

Senate Bill 442 requires insurers to disclose to consumers that their commercial or residential property insurance policy does not cover flood damage. This disclosure must be included with policy documents at the initial issuance and at renewal. The bill is effective for all policies delivered, issued, or renewed on or after January 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 1264 ends the practice of balance billing, which occurs when consumers receive care or medical supplies from out-of-network healthcare providers, then receive a bill to pay what was not covered by their health plan. The bill prevents balance billing when the consumer does not have the option to see an in-network healthcare provider, such as in the event of a medical emergency. It becomes effective January 1, 2020.

House Bill 259 prohibits named driver policies. These are auto policies that do not cover household members not listed on the policy, which is different from most auto policies that cover residents of the household even if they are not listed. This bill will apply to all auto insurance policies delivered, issued, or renewed on or after January 1, 2020.

House Bill 1554 allows insurers to provide personal auto and residential property policy documents in languages other than English to help consumers better understand their coverage. In a dispute or complaint, the English version of the policy would control. This bill took effect on May 24, 2019.